Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) third lunar mission Chandrayaan 3, which was launched on July 14, 2023, is set to land on the south pole region on the lunar surface today evening (August 23) at around 6:04 pm I.S.T.
The ISRO, completed the first deboosting operation on August 18, which reduced Chandrayaan 3’s orbit to 113 km x 157 km. This deboosting was performed one day after the lander module separated from the propulsion module after a long journey of 34 days toward the moon. The ISRO also performed the second and final deboosting of the lander module on August 20, aiming to reduce the lander module’s orbit to 25 km x 134 km.
The Lander, along with the Rover in its belly, is currently in the 25 km x 134 km orbit. This Lander Module is set to land on the moon on August 23 around 6:04 pm I.S.T. The powered descent of the Lander Module is expected to be commenced by ISRO around 5:45 pm.
A day before the soft landing of the Lander Module of Chandrayaan 3 on the south region of the Moon’s surface, the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) said that the mission is on its way to be completed as per schedule.
The ISRO also posted on social media platform X, which was formerly Twitter, “The mission is on schedule. Systems are undergoing regular checks. Smooth sailing is continuing. The Mission Operations Complex (MOX) is buzzed with energy & excitement.”
When the Vikram lander descends, the new Norcia Antenna of the European Space Agency which is currently in Australia is to be used for tracking and telemetry.
NASA's Canberra Deep Space Network (DSN) antennas, namely DSS36 and DSS34, are currently engaged in tracking Chandrayaan-3. Additionally, the European Space Agency's New Norcia antenna located in Australia will assume the role of tracking and providing telemetry data during the lander's descent phase. Notably, the primary responsibility for tracking and telemetry operations is carried out by ISRO in Bengaluru.
What happened to India’s previous lunar mission?
India’s previous attempt to achieve a successful lunar landing at the southern pole faced a setback in 2019.
Although Chandrayaan 2 effectively placed an orbited into space, its lander and rover experienced destruction due to a crash near the location where Chandrayaan 3 is going to attempt a touchdown.
The challenging nature of the lunar south pole’s terrain is one of the complications for a successful south pole landing. However, ISRO scientists say that they have taken necessary measures and adjustments to enhance the likelihood of a successful landing for the ongoing mission.
These adjustments include the implementation of a system that increases the potential landing area. Additionally, the lander has also been equipped with additional fuel reserves and reinforced legs to better endure the impact.